Tag Archives: Tracy Morgan

The Clapper

Have you ever watched an infomercial? You can’t help but notice the overtanned, overenthusiastic, overcoked host who can’t wait to repeatedly demonstrate the practically-miraculous assets of their product, available for a limited time only for 3 easy payments of just $29.99. But have you ever noticed the audience? The host is always playing to a crowd, a crowd that’s just a little too into it. They’re hooting and hollering and applauding every third word. They ask deliciously leading questions like “Are you telling ME that for NO MONEY DOWN I could take that chamois home with me TODAY?” Those people are called clappers, and they’re paid to be there.

Eddie Krumble is a clapper; in fact he’s the clapper of this film, and if there’s anyone better in the whole wide world than Ed Helms to play him, I don’t know it and I can’t even imagine it. Eddie’s been through a bit of a rough time recently so he figured a move to Hollywood would provide the shake up he needs. But clapping doesn’t pay super well, and his only relationship outside of fellow clappers is with a gas station attendant, Judy (Amanda Seyfried), to whom he only speaks through a bullet-proof glass partition. Eddie’s mother calls him regularly after seeing one of this “shows” to critique his performance, and perhaps his product, but she’s the only one really paying attention MV5BMTEwNjQ3NjQyMDheQTJeQWpwZ15BbWU4MDcwNzk1MDIy._V1_SX1777_CR0,0,1777,740_AL_until he catches the eye of a shameless late night talk show host who creates a nation-wide manhunt to find The Clapper. This little bit of notoriety embarrasses Eddie until it downright starts to ruin his life. When Judy suddenly disappears from the gas station, he agrees to ride his 15 minutes of fame, but only in order to find her. But he’s going to discover that late night television doesn’t exist to make love connections: this is going to be a shit show.

I loved Ed Helms in this. Eddie is a quirky character, a guy that would be easy to make fun of and yet director Dito Montiel stops short. I’m not sure Montiel knows exactly what to do with him aside from that, but casting Helms sort of lets him off the hook. And I love that the film is set in the dark, dirty corners of Hollywood, it’s seedy and scruffy and not remotely glamorous. And the film quietly exposes television, even the “reality” stuff, to be blatant manipulation. This is not the side of Hollywood we’re used to being presented, but this one is far more interesting, and actually kind of refreshing.

In all honesty, this is not a great film by any stretch, but I was tickled by Helms’ honest performance (and even by Tracy Morgan as his devoted clapper sidekick) and if Montiel didn’t always hit the target with jokes or satire, he landed closely enough to entertain me for 89 minutes. I like offbeat stuff, and this movie had a scuzziness to it that I found oddly attractive.

Advertisements

Fist Fight

The first mistake Fist Fight makes, and it makes it before it even starts, is assuming everyone in the audience is high. Not just assuming, but requiring. Requiring it, necessitating it with its very premise, yet rudely NOT passing out joints before the opening credits roll. There is nothing about this movie that will make sense unless you are largely mentally incapacitated. Let me be clear: there is no amount of marijuana that will help this movie to make any sense in the strictest definition of the word. There may, however, be a sweet spot where you just don’t care, and if you find it, let me know.

Charlie Day is a mild-mannered English teacher and Ice Cube is an intimidating history teacher at the same “rough” high school where it’s the last day of school, students are fistfight0003wild, and everyone’s job is on the chopping block. Before first period is even over, Ice Cube takes the chopping a little too literally, taking an actual fire ax to a student’s desk. Mean principal Tyler (Dean Norris) insists on firing one of them on the spot, and since Charlie Day’s got a baby due any minute (and is in fact NOT the one to threaten students with an ax), he lets Tyler know that Ice Cube is perhaps the obvious choice. This enrages Ice Cube, and instead of taking his anger out on the student who pissed him off, or the principal who just fired him, or the superintendent who made him interview for his own job, he for no apparent reason zeroes in on the innocent and oblivious Charlie Day, who we’ve already established as a “coward” for no particular reason, but he’s wearing khakis and a nubby sports coat, so let’s go with it.

Charlie Day spends the rest of his day in a total panic, trying to avoid this #teacherfight. Will he stoop to black mailing students? Planting drugs on fellow teachers? Lying to his pregnant wife and disappointing his young daughter? Of course he will. And most egregiously, he will go to Tracy Morgan for advice. I mean, I can suspend my disbelief enough to allow for a horse amped up on homemade meth. Sure. But someone seeking out Tracy Morgan for advice? Come on.

I have an enormous crush on Ice Cube, and he’s very Ice Cube-y in this. And Charlie Day is fistfightquite Charlie Day. It’s too bad nobody wrote for them. Or really wrote at all, period. The run up to the #teacherfight is so standard you’ll wonder where you’ve seen it before and realize the answer is: everywhere. This movie borrows heavily from all kinds of mediocre movies and doesn’t even bother to steal the best stuff. It’s lazy. And absurd. And when the fight occurs, it’ll require exceptions to the rules of time and space that your brain won’t even be able to handle, nor will it want to because this movie just doesn’t deserve that kind of effort.

Fist Fight has all the makings of a mid-February comedy. It’s like it didn’t even try to be anything more.

Why Stop Now

Jesse Eisenberg is having a terrible, no-good, very bad day. He’s a piano prodigy who needs to get to the audition that will launch his future, only he has to get his sister to school and his imagemother (Melissa Leo) to rehab first, if only her drug dealer (Tracy Morgan) will let him out of this inconvenient hostage situation.

This movie has no idea what it wants to be. It ricochets between the hijinks you’d expect from a drug dealer named Sprinkles badly in need of a Spanish translator, to the high drama of a family in turmoil, to the awful lows of the whiny, fast-talking tones of every single Jesse Eisenberg movie ever made. And was I comfortable with the white guy = piano prodigy, black guy = drug dealer dynamic? Not so much.

I suppose this film is mildly entertaining if you can forgive the fact that it doesn’t actually have why-stop-now-imageanything to say. I mean, 5 minutes after it was done, I forgot how it ended. What was the point of all of this? Somewhere between wacky and weepy it gets muddled and lost and never recovers.